The 61 New Best Things About Boston

Hey, we get it—you don't need anybody laying out the reasons to love this city. You're a Bostonian, for crying out loud. You already know there's just so much here here. And now we're going to tell you what's so great about your home? Well, yes. Because while there are the familiar, timeless reasons to adore Boston, with the city evolving faster than ever, every day seems to bring with it a new object of affection. Here's what's filling our hearts with Boston pride right now.

boston globe

Illustration by Kagan McLeod

46. Our Better-Than-We-Give-It-Credit-For Paper of Record

You know the bad news: circulation spiraling; foreign bureaus shuttered; columnists (particularly ones with curly red hair) short on fresh ideas; several rounds of debilitating buyouts; and now the departure of ace business scribe Steve Bailey, along with two high-ranking editors. But the truth of the matter is, the Globe continues to put out a damn good newspaper seven days a week. The peerless Charlie Savage recently captured a Pulitzer for writing the kind of probing investigative stories you don’t get out of Washington anymore. The paper’s reporting on Mitt Romney’s failed run for the presidency was exemplary (no surprise, given its pack-leading and uncompromising treatment of John Kerry’s candidacy in 2004). And new metro editor Brian McGrory has even managed to add kick and color to the paper’s long-drowsy city coverage. Love to hate it, sure, but the Globe remains one of the finest dailies anywhere. —Jason Schwartz


A rendering of the future Boston waterfront, our next great neighborhood. / The Fallon Company/Neoscape

47. Construction Sites Rising (Finally) on the South Boston 

Over the coming decade, Bostonians will witness that rarest of things in a centuries-old city: the birth of an entirely new neighborhood. Concrete and steel will spread across an enormous swath of the South Boston waterfront, eventually to be wrapped in a skin of shining glass. In time, the crews of construction workers will give way to a steady flow of neighbors and coworkers inhabiting a vibrant and wholly new district.

Political and financial obstacles have thwarted previous development on the waterfront, leaving it famously gaping and barren, a potential paradise sitting underutilized as a giant parking lot. But in the failures of the past lies today’s opportunity. Waterfront land allows creation from the bottom up, without the messy immoralities of building atop someone else’s memories (much less their historic commission–protected architecture). Developers John B. Hynes III, Joe Fallon, and John Drew are prepping dozens of buildings and more than 10 million square feet of shopping, hotel, office, and condo space, and ground has already been broken on Fallon’s Fan Pier, an eight-building project that hugs the harbor. Forget the West End: Bostonians haven’t seen such activity since the swamps of the Charles were filled in the mid-1800s. We’re changing our boundaries, updating our maps—a new frontier in an old city, ready for rediscovery. —Jason Feifer


a. Simmons Hall, MIT. b. Institute for Contemporary Art, South Boston. c. Genzyme, Cambridge. d. Macallen Building, South Boston. e. WGBH, Brighton. f. Lulu Chow Wang Campus Center, Wellesley College. g. Liberty Hotel. h. Boston Public Library, Honan-Allston branch. i. Boston Children’s Museum. j. Artists for Humanity Epi- Center, South Boston. k. Manulife Tower, South Boston. l. Orchard Gardens Elementary School, Roxbury. m. Loft23, University Park, Cambridge. n. Glavin Family Chapel, Babson College. o. College of Computer and Information Science, Northeastern University. p. Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge.

48. At Last, Modern Architecture Worth Flaunting

Contrary to public perception, the 1960s and ’70s were actually a fruitful time in Boston for hip, theoretical architecture. To most residents back then, though, hip and theoretical translated to “ghastly”—especially when it came to modern landmarks like the hulking City Hall and the bunker-style Peabody Terrace. After a flurry of such buildings arrived all at once, a traumatized public spent the next 30 or so years rallying against any architecture that smelled even remotely nontraditional. Today, however, we’ve begun to recover from our collective PTSD, ushering in a new era that’s reminding the world (and ourselves) that there’s room in Boston for more than stately brick. —Rachel Levitt


Photograph by yeheshua johnson

A Bostonian we love (and what he loves about Boston)

49. Barbara Quintiliani, 30, soprano

An opera singer’s voice tends to mature around the time of midlife crisis. This explains why the Washington Post is still predicting “a significant operatic career” for Barbara Quintiliani, even though the 30-year-old Quincy resident has sung alongside Placido Domingo (who said she has “a voice of beauty”), and hobnobs with Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Prince of Spain on her international tours. For all her, ahem, early success, however, Quintiliani remains easygoing and self-effacing, a diva who loves to shoot pool—that perfect Boston mix of marvelous and modest.

“There is a real love for art and music here,” she says. “Boston is one of the most soulful cities in that way (#50).” Not that performing here isn’t a challenge. “It’s not like I’m in Sheboygan,” she says. “To have an audience here embrace you is a big
deal. They’re very conservative with applause.” Of all the places she’s sung, Quintiliani lists the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall (#51) as tops. “It’s intimate, and at the same time very glamorous. It’s a very friendly place to a voice.” —J.F.

We Love This Town Because…

52. You can still pick up an “Italian Stallion” T-shirt during the North End’s summer street festivals.

53. The Red Sox have finally removed those godawful Coke bottles from Fenway.

54. Regular drag nights at swank South End lounge 28 Degrees are giving cross-dressing cabaret stalwart Jacques a run for its money.

55. The jukebox at Charlie’s Kitchen.

56. Any Bostonian miraculously at a loss for impolite words can now turn to brilliant local slang linguist and author A. C. Kemp’s handy new guide, The Perfect Insult for Every Occasion.

57. Eight years after the death of its adored polar bear Major, the Stone Zoo is bringing back the Ursidae family, introducing a pair of brother black bears this spring.

58. Uniting Beacon Hill under one-party rule did nothing to curb the always-thrilling political blood sport.

59. Taking a break from saving the planet, MIT has delivered the Catsup Crapper, which its inventors describe as “the first ketchup bottle to roller-skate to your plate and excrete a pleasant mound of condiment” on whatever needs to be covered in Heinz 57.

60. The next time a couple of art students attach light boards to bridges all over town, we’ll take it in stride.

red sox

Photograph by michael ivins/boston red sox

61. The Sox’s Fountain of Youth

Okay, so adding Johan Santana would have guaranteed the Red Sox another, oh, three or four championships. But what’s the fun in winning that way? These days, the Sox would rather develop their prospects than trade them for established stars—and we couldn’t be happier. It gets us weak in the knees just dreaming of Jacoby Ellsbury patrolling center field for the next decade, Dustin Pedroia giving hope to 5-foot-2 guys across New England, and Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester delivering a Cy Young Award or two. If the Sox have proved anything in the past few years, after all, it’s that there’s more than one way to build a World Series winner. —Paul Flannery